One step at a time: Alzheimer’s walk, education fair SaturdayPublished 7:14pm Wednesday, October 9, 2013
One step at a time, participants in Saturday’s Alzheimer’s Walk will walk to raise awareness of the disease that affects so many aging Americans. They walk not just to remember loved ones
who’ve suffered the disease and raise funds for research, but to shine a spotlight on the many resources available — resources of which caregivers may not be aware.
The Alzheimer’s Walk starts at 10:30 a.m. from the Improved Order of Red Men’s lodge, but inside, all the information a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient would want is available, according to Emily Albera, one of the walk’s organizers. Medical professionals working in the prevention, treatment and research of the disease, social workers, lawyers, hospice workers, mental health professionals will all be on hand to share their knowledge with caregivers on a broad range of topics, from recognizing the warning signs of the disease, to behavior management of Alzheimer’s sufferers, to legal issues, such as establishing living wills and power of attorney.
According to Albera, the stigma associated with the disease long-prevented practical information from being shared readily, but no longer.
“The stigma has been there for so many years, but I think the last couple of years, that’s changed because it’s hitting so many families,” Albera said. “The stigma can’t be there because the word is out: it’s not a mental illness — it’s a disease.”
Albera and her mother’s caretaker launched the local Alzheimer’s Walk shortly after Albera’s mother — who suffered from the disease — died. That was nine years ago, but Albera continues to take part.
“I had to be involved because it started with Mother, but it’s continued and just gotten better and better,” she said. “It’s not about Mom anymore. It’s about helping all these people deal with the frustration I had to deal with 25 years ago.”
From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday that information will be available to anyone who would like to know about local resources.
Through sponsorships and donations, the Washington Walk raises money for Alzheimer’s NC, an organization “dedicated to providing education, support and services to individuals with dementia, their families, health care professionals and the general public while raising awareness and funding for research of a cause(s), treatment, prevention and cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” according to the organization’s website.
Funding has already come home to eastern North Carolina in the form of a $50,000 research grant to East Carolina University’s Wooten Laboratory to research the effects of physical and cognitive exercise on lab animals with symptoms of dementia.
More than 140,000 people in North Carolina suffer from the disease and with a growing, and aging, population, in 12 years, that number is expected to quadruple, thus the need to get as much information out there as possible.
Albera explained registration for the walk runs from 9 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. before the 10:30 start, with time built in for awards for those who have proven dedicated supporters, either financially or through participation in the walk. WITN’s Dave Jordan will emcee the event and — bonus — pizza will be available for the walkers upon their return from the loop around downtown Washington.
Improved Order of Red Men’s lodge is located at 503 E. Third Street, Washington. To sign up Saturday’s walk or sponsor a team, visit www.alznc.org, follow the Alzheimer’s Walks link, then the Washington button on the left hand side of the page.